- Fern Ridge Project
One year, four sites
Fern Ridge is a wetlands area west of Eugene, Oregon. The Fern Ridge Project is in response to research conducted by Sarah Marshall, a doctoral student at Oregon State University, who is studying human effects on the ecosystem. The paintings in the Project correspond to four sites in the Fern Ridge area. Coyote consists of two adjacent fields, one is in the process of being restored from its previous state of a rye grass field, the other is still a rye grass field. Dragonfly, another field closer to the Fern Ridge Reservoir, is in an earlier stage of restoration than Coyote. The last site, Fischer Butte is a nature preserve. It is the field that most closely resembles the ecology of native wetlands.
The Fern Ridge Project spanned an entire year. Each group of four paintings shows the most prevalent colors of the sites arranged in lines progressing from the most to least prevalent colors during each season.
I often approach a particular subject through a series of closely related groups of paintings. In this way I can incorporate the concept of time with the medium of painting. Each individual painting within a grouping represents a distinct place and point in time. But grouped with its counterparts, the paintings begin to tell the story not only of the specific, but contribute to a larger dialog that speaks of the patterns within patterns of the ecology as a whole.
Each season I visited each of the sites and photographed the landscape. I digitally separated and arranged the landscape's colors. I then painstakingly painted the representative colors on a traditionally prepared wood panel. The act of painting the colors is an essential aspect of the process. I see it as an activity that brings the impersonal translation of the landscape through digital media back into the realm of the personal. The imperfections and irregularities contrast with the sterile affect that science can appear to have on the visceral experience of interacting with an environment. Mixing the colors and then performing the monotonous act of painting the lines as accurately as I can becomes a form of meditation. To do this I am required to spend a lengthy period of time contemplating each individual color of the landscape and how the other colors within the painting affect the perception of the individual colors. I gain a hyper awareness of the individual color patterns at each site.